The Rio Grande Nature Trail is a pawfect spot for a quick hike with your leashed, four-pawed pal! Beginning in the 270-acre Rio Grande Nature Center State Park in the suburban Albuquerque neighborhood of Alvardo Gardens, the 1.80-mile loop winds through gorgeous bosque forest and willow thickets on its way down to the river, and the cottonwoods provide plenty of shade from the New Mexico sun. The route is a favorite of local pups and their people -- there’s a good chance Fido will make some new friends along the way, but those searching for solitude should probably look elsewhere.
Not only does the trail wander through wooded wonderland and feature some spectacular waterside views, but it’s also home to lots of interesting native critters. Avid bird-watchers will go cuckoo once they see the sheer number of species, from roadrunners and cranes to wood ducks and geese. To see the widest variety of birds, visit in early spring, but summer brings both wildflowers and fast-fluttering hummingbirds. You’ll find plenty of small lizards in the summer, too, and non-furry family members might find it fun to see how many salamanders they can spot before the end of the route.
The Rio Grande Nature Trail is about as accessible as a path can get without having a paved surface. The low elevation gains make the trek a good option for anyone from the fittest furry friends to the less athletic among us, and there are a couple of benches dotted along the route, so you can take a load off if it feels like your buddy has been walking you! You’ll find restrooms for humans by the park’s visitors center, but pooches aren’t so lucky -- there aren’t any bag dispensers along the trail, so be sure to bring waste bags with you to keep this furrific trail clean.